02 May 2018 Story Air

Motorsport champion Lucas di Grassi joins the fight for clean air

Brazilian racecar driver Lucas di Grassi has announced his support for UN Environment’s work to reduce air pollution – the single biggest environmental health risk of our time.

“For me, it's a lifetime achievement to be a part of the UN Environment Programme," said di Grassi in Paris last week ahead of the 2018 Qatar Airways Paris E-Prix.

Among his many racing achievements, di Grassi is the reigning champion of Formula E – the auto racing series that uses only electric-powered cars. Helping to advance and promote zero-emissions mobility, Formula E acts as a testing ground for some of the world's largest car manufacturers as they develop the electric cars of tomorrow.

Lucas di Grassi
Lucas di Grassi is the reigning champion of Formula E, the racing series that uses only electric-powered vehicles (Audi).

But di Grassi is also an environmental entrepreneur in his own right.

“I've been promoting sustainable mobility since founding my first NGO in 2007,” he says. “I first discovered the benefits of driving efficiently when I used to drive my mother’s car around Sao Paulo. I found out I could use half the amount of fuel she did but I suppose I am a better driver!" he laughs.

Alongside racing for Audi in Formula E, di Grassi is also the owner and founder of EDG, a company specializing in lightweight electric bicycles with a 100-km range.

In his new role as UN Environment Clean Air Advocate, Di Grassi will help to spread the messages of the BreatheLife campaign, which is run jointly by UN Environment, the World Health Organization and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition.  

Together, Di Grassi and Formula E can support the fight for cleaner air by showcasing sustainable mobility in the heart of some of the world's most iconic cities, over five continents.

Rome Formula E
Formula E showcases sustainable transport in Rome and other major world cities. (Audi)

“People are only going to buy electric cars when they are better than combustion-engined cars,” says Formula E Founder and CEO Alejandro Agag. “To do that, you need to improve the technology and that is exactly what we are doing here. Batteries are the issue in electric cars. We are seeing that the progress is slow but in four years, we've doubled the range of our car's batteries.”

“What is so great about having Lucas on board is that he's a champion in more ways than one,” says Tim Kasten, deputy director of UN Environment’s economy division.

“He's a champion in Formula E but also a champion in terms of his promotion of the environment and air quality. We're working with Formula E because we want to promote sustainable mobility to improve the lives of people all around the world,” he adds.

Learn more about UN Environment’s work on air quality.